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cookerycourses.co.uk recipes News

The first recipe on cookery courses – pasta n peppers

As promised, today we experiment with a first for cookerycourses.co.uk – recipes! It seems strange that we write so much about the food industry, yet offer nothing in the way of healthy option eating. Or any type of cuisine you could just log on to our website and cook, for that matter.

Today, we’re going to start with a simple fusilli dish, which appeals to not only lovers of Italian food or those who like a quick snack with a bit of a bite, but also to vegetarians. In the same vein that Jermaine Jackson sang we don’t have to take our clothes off to have a good time, you don’t necessarily need to eat meat to have a good meal. My experience is that you are much more satisfied when you do indulge in both, but hey-ho, each to their own.

For basic ingredients you need two large peppers, red, yellow or green; you’ll find most supermarkets sell them in a traffic-light pack, one of each; if you’ve got a death-wish or cast iron stomach, you could even use all three. For oil, virgin olive oil is best (obviously taking Jermaine at his word), of which you’ll need one tbsp.

If you want to go posh, opt for a couple of shallots or one large onion if you’re you’re going the diner route – whichever way, they need to be finely chopped. A clove of garlic is best nutritionally, but a level teaspoon of garlic powder will do for the recipe just as well; likewise, a teaspoon dried chillies, crushed is preferred, but a good teaspoon of chilli powder will suffice.

I’m sure half of these online food stores print recipes that incorporate exotic ingredients just so that people will buy more of their range (and part with more of their cash); often, a common alternative is just as effective and has little or no effect on the outcome of the flavour of the dish.  Dare I say, even improves it, as our taste buds are more used to the common-or-garden ingredients.

100ml of vegetable stock is next, followed by 125gm of sun-dried tomatoes (for economy, these tend to be sold in 100gm containers, so a splodge (technical term) of tomato puree added will work out more cost effective. A couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar completes the mix, and then add the pasta of your choice – if we’re sticking to a fusilli dish, it had better be fusilli, but conchiglie is just as cool.

From thereon in, the method’s plain sailing. If you want the softish texture for the peppers, you can whack them in the oven on Gas Mark 8 for a half an hour and then peel the skin off when cooled or if you’re not that fussed, slice and dice into them into half-inch chunks and soften them in a frying pan with the oil, along with the shallots/onions as your first operation.

Pop a pan of water on for the pasta – at what point you put the fusilli/conchiglie in will depend upon what the instructions on the packet, but familiarise yourself with the rest of this recipe, liaise with the pasta instructions and coincide the two to finish simultaneously.

Once you’re happy with the texture of your vegetables, add the garlic and chilli with approximately a third of the stock and simmer for another five minutes. If you’ve roasted and peeled the peppers, now’s the time to put them in, as is it time for the sun-dried tomatoes and the balance of stock.

After they’ve been cooked for ten minutes, add the vinegar for about a minute, by which time it should all have reduced to a fine sauce mix.

If you’ve got it right, you can now drain the pasta and stir it in with the sauce mix and, hey-presto, you’re done in next to no time.

Based on sharing this meal between four, it will deliver approximately 500 calories, 12gm of sugars, less than 1gm of saturated from the 12gm of fat in all, which means there is plenty of good fats (mono- and poly-unsaturated) in there to help lower cholesterol and, despite popular misconception, increase your healthy fat intake, which is good for you!  And finally, a serving contains  only a quarter of a gram of salt, so is excellent for those conscious of healthy eating.

So there you go – our first recipe. Please, enjoy, share and give us some feedback. Happy days!

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Cookery Courses London News

US, The Med and two vegetarian – cookery courses, London

It is a strange fact of life, but some people do not eat meat, some through allergic or digestive reaction, but the majority through choice. And there are a lot more individuals choosing the carcass-free diet. As such, Leith’s of London are throwing two cookery courses next month to celebrate vegetarian cooking from either side of the Atlantic.

First up, we have the vegetarian cookery course from the North Americas, which will be hosted by Sarah Kearns and Marise Maddison. Given how huge the continent is and how many varied cultures they could have drawn upon to cobble this cookery course together, they have had to be brutal and cut much of the sub-culture dishes out. It will be a whistle-stop tour, indeed, all crammed into a four and a quarter hours over the lunchtime of Tuesday 17th April.

Kick off time for the cookery class is 10.15, but you can arrive up to half an hour beforehand. You will need an apron, or, if you want to spoil yourself with a new one for the occasion, Leith’s have them on sale in their shop, so no need to panic if you forget to pack your trusty old coverall. You may need to check with the cookery school what containers are required to take home any uneaten food in, if any.

An overview of the planned dishes for the cookery course Ojibwe Three Sisters Chowder, a native American dish, then we have other stop-offs with wild rice and cranberry salad from The Great Lakes, Big Apple sweet potato and carrot cake to top off nicely the greyhound tour of American cuisine.

The day after, Wednesday 18th April, we zip back this side of The Pond for a sun-soaked offering of vegetarian from The Mediterranean. Same time and place, and again Sarah and Marise take the reigns for another tour into vegetarian cooking, a little closer to home.

There are few other places in Europe where vegetables and fruits grow so big and plentiful and the girls incorporate a fair spread of hand-picked (literally) produce from vine, tree and bush to tempt us with. The menu utilises, in no particular order, red peppers and potatoes, pomegranate and pistachios and even caramelised Aubergine, again to complete a complete meal in one cookery course, drawing from vegetables, fruits and nuts of the continent.

Prices are £130 per cookery course and you can either book online for yourself or buy a gift for a friend, either veggie themselves or perhaps someone who never knows what to cook for their meat-free family. There are presently spaces available for both cookery courses at the London venue but, looking at the closer cookery classes on their schedule there are wait lists; full schedule and terms and conditions available from the Leith’s website.

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Cookery Course News

Vegetarian cookery courses as part of a weight loss diet

What is it about Irish cookery courses that, instead of just learning the wannabe chef how to cook, they always add a little something extra to incentivise its pupils to actually use the skills they learn when they get home. Or even in business, as our review of Donnybrook Fair opined you may, last week.

Wholeffoodmatters.com is another weblog that, as well as offering a whole host of vegetarian cookery courses on a regular basis has factored in a special ingredient so that you not only want to practise what you’ve learnt when you get home to impress your friends, family and colleagues but also means that you’re getting a lot more value from your cookery class than just learning to prepare, cook and serve the menu.

Instead of just presenting a timetable of events, menu and pricelist, this Galway cookery school factors in how you can build their menus into a weight loss diet, with nods of acknowledgement to the master class from which they have taken a slice of inspiration. But more than that, the whole ingredients utilised in the variety of vegetarian offerings provide the body with much greater benefits, such as balancing blood sugars and lowering blood pressure, as well as giving a helping hand to help reduce cholesterol levels for a healthier lifestyle, overall.

As you would expect from a vegetarian cookery course, there is a heavy leaning on pulses, other vegetables, fruit and nuts, seeds and rice to deliver an all-round balanced diet. Not only from main courses, but you will also learn to cook starters, desserts and sides to offer a complete meat-free meal.

The next cookery course (after today’s) is on Saturday, March 3rd at a very reasonable €40, €20 of which will be required as a deposit when booking online.

There is no danger of being lost in the crowd, either, as cooking classes have a maximum of twelve chefs-in-the-making and will be guaranteed when the size of online enrolments reaches eight (your €20 deposit will be returned if the minimum class size fails to materialise).

In the next class in Moycullen a week on Saturday, there will be a grand selection of delights on the menu, such as berry smoothies, muffins, pâté and croutons, stew, salad, dressing and shepherd’s pie all prepared, cooked and served in a meat-free zone. As a rule, there will be a demonstration by Liz first, then it will be your turn to get stuck in.

If this is not for you, but you know someone who’d just adore to learn to cook vegetarian you can buy the €40 voucher online as a gift for, I don’t know, perhaps mother’s day? As long as your ma doesn’t take it the wrong way, of course! All details on their site.